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Principle: FINALLY a great visual prototyping tool

I have been searching for years to find a great and easy to use visual prototyping tool with no success. First I tried out Origami from the team at Facebook (read previous article) that sat on Apple’s free Quartz Composer application that had traditionally been used as a motion graphics tool but found it to be too complicated to use in a real workflow. Then I tried Avocado from the team at IDEO (read previous article) that looked to try to improve upon the work that had been done in Origami but here again the application was just too complicated and the learning curve was too high to make it a realistic option for my work. Finally there was Form from Relative Wave (read previous article) which got my attention because it had a desktop app to create the prototypes and an iOS companion app that will let you run your prototypes on actual devices. It had the same node based interface from Quartz Composer, Origami and Avocado and even though it was a little simpler to use it still wasn’t what I was looking for. I wanted an application that was simple to use but powerful enough to allow me to create new and complex interfaces that give me subtle control over interactions and animation.

A few weeks ago I came across a new app called Principle from former Apple Engineer Daniel Hooper that looked promising but I was skeptical and didn’t want to get my hopes up that this might finally be the tool I has been looking for after so many disappointments. The app costs $99 but thankfully they had a free 14 day trial that let me take the app for a test drive. When I launched the app I noticed that the interface felt instantly familiar with the same UI aesthetic as Sketch and Apple’s applications like Keynote that look simple at first but you quickly find contain powerful tools. The similarities with Sketch continued as I found that Principle had an inspector, layers list, mirror functionality and best of all – my beloved artboards. These things alone put it MILES ahead of any other visual prototyping app I had tried but I wanted to put it through its paces to be sure.

Just like with Sketch I found that within an hour I was flying through the programming creating what I wanted which was nothing short of AMAZING! Each screen of your prototype is put into a new dartboard and you import your assets from another application to give you all the elements you need. You then add interactions like tap, long press, scrolling, dragging or touch that you choose from a menu and drag from the trigger element to the resulting destination. A floating prototyping window then lets you instantly test out the results to make sure it is the action you wanted. But then I saw something that had me dancing around my studio – an animation panel. Similar to what you would find in an application like After Effects where you can control the duration and even customize the animation curves to get the exact feel you want. There is also functionality called Drivers which are a little more complicated to understand but they basically allow you to create sophisticated continuous interactions that are more complex and customizable than a simple animation.

Principle is still in its early days but the functionality and promise of this application is far and away the best I’ve ever seen. If you are doing any digital design work you really need to try this app because I think Principle could do for prototyping what Sketch recently did for design. You can find out more about the app here, watch tutorials on how to use the app here, review the documentation here and follow them on Twitter here.

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Creative Director, Designer, Brand Builder, Speaker, Podcaster, Crazy One. As a designer, I have 20+ years experience creating the strategy, concepts, and designs for award-winning integrated global advertising campaigns, building multiple global Fortune 500 brands and creating innovative digital experiences. As a leader, I have 15+ years transforming agency and client-side teams using a mix of creativity, business strategy, process and political skill to create innovative, world-class work and cultures that change industries and companies. My clients have included American Airlines, W Hotels, Disney, Citi, ExxonMobil, Acura, Old Navy, Nationwide Insurance, Verizon, Subaru and many others. My work has received over 150 international awards, my app designs have been named as one of the World’s 100 Greatest Apps, Apple has featured my work in 9 keynotes, 4 TV commercials and more.

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 @baitme did an incredible job on the Mr Dob by @takashipom - details are fantastic. #takashimurakami #takashimurakamiart #mrdob #complexcon #bait #arttoy #designertoys #contemporaryart #popart #vinyltoys #urbanvinyl  Love coming home after a long week to find Mr Dob by @takashipom and @baitme waiting for me. #takashimurakami #takashimurakamiart #mrdob #complexcon #bait #arttoy #designertoys #contemporaryart #popart #vinyltoys #urbanvinyl  More in love with our @obeygiant from @galerie_itinerrance more every day. #streerart #shepardfairey #shepardfaireyart #shepardfaireyobey #streetartist #globe #earthcrisis  Feels a bit like Xmas today as our Earth Chrisis @obeygiant pieces and more showed up from @galerie_itinerrance in Paris. #obeygiant #obey #shepardfairey #streetartist #streetart #streetartparis #galerieitinerrance  Briefcase 2.0 thanks to @louisvuitton Avenue champ de Elysees #apolloalldaybag #louisvuitton #louisvuittonmonogram #monogrameclipse #lv #design #creativedirector
 Hello my name is Steve Gates and I have a Mr Dob by @takashipom problem. #takashimurakami #takashimurakamiart #mrdob #complexcon #bait #arttoy #designertoys #contemporaryart #popart #vinyltoys #urbanvinyl  Spending a lot of time away from home lately so looking forward to getting home tomorrow to see these two crazy ones. #NationalPuppyDay #pugs #pugsofinstagram #pug #puglife  Brunch with @thechiclibrary before I hit the road again #chic #tomford @blackscale #blackscale @tomford #brunch #fashion  I always love the unwritten rule in Barcelona where you can create street art on doors and shutters but not the actual buildings. #streetartbarcelona #barcelona #streetartofficial #streetart #streetartist  Another preview of our commission from @tristaneaton and based on the 'crazy' in letterpress type and archery target you should know this is my side of the piece. #tristaneaton #tristaneatonart #tristaneatonmural #streetart #streetartist #streetartofficial
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